The social mediation of nature

 

Me, taking a picture on my phone
Me, taking a picture on my phone

Mobile devices do not just extend the number of places that you can use social media; they bring social media to those places and, through the LBS [location based service], contribute to the construction of new cartographies of space. In other words, they provide us with new ways of mapping meaning to space and creating new places.
– Understanding Social Media, Sam Hinton and Larissa Hjorth.

I spent the last year working in social media and in my spare time I write about nature. These two aspects of my life always seemed very disparate – I even have separate blogs for my writing about nature and social media. But perhaps I’ve been wrong to think of them in this way, perhaps the two interact and mediate one another in ways I hadn’t considered before. Continue readingThe social mediation of nature

I went for a wander and found… a crocodile!

This morning’s sunshine tricked me into pulling on my shoes and coat and heading out for a walk. I was beginning to regret the hat and scarf as I walked through the quiet Sunday streets in bright, warm sunshine.

On my way to the park I came across a heron on a lamppost. In fact, it’s quite a common sight around here. I’ve also seen them on gate posts, railings and rooftops. They always look to me as though they’re guarding something… Continue readingI went for a wander and found… a crocodile!

Spring is here and so am I

2014-03-02 15.05.08It’s felt like a busy few weeks. We had two weekends in a row of visitors – first, my stepmother and brothers and then, some old friends from university. Aside from the fact that it was lovely to spend time with family and friends, I also enjoyed showing off my new city. Acting as a tour guide for our visitors helped to divorce me from the day-to-day realities of being an expat in a foreign country and instead see Amsterdam as a tourist would. It’s hard not to fall in love with the place as you wander along sunlit canals and down narrow alleyways, lined with shops and cafés. Amsterdam certainly has some unique and oddly specific shops – so far we’ve come across a shop that just sells coffee and one kind of cookie (probably the most expensive cookie I’ve ever eaten at €1.95 a pop), a canvas shop that sells nothing but canvas fabric, and – I kid you not – a toothbrush shop. You have to love a city that can support that kind of economy. Continue readingSpring is here and so am I

On starting a new literary magazine

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Image by Wendi Dunlap

As part of my MA in Writing, Nature and Place, I had to do a publishing module. My fellow course mates and I edited, designed, typeset and distributed a literary magazine called Peninsula (you can read the magazine online). I absolutely loved the experience – contacting possible contributors, editing the submissions, the frenzied editorial meetings, and holding the final product in my hands. Continue readingOn starting a new literary magazine

The magic of the morning

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I’ve been helping out at an environmental organisation in Tilburg for two days a week, which means getting up very early in order to catch the train. The journey takes about an hour and a half, which gives you a sense of how small this country is, since Tilburg is right down in the south, close to the Belgium border. I’d say Amsterdam is in the north, but I suppose it is really in the middle – I’ve become a midlander again. One of the people I work with is from the north. I mentioned to her that my boyfriend and I are planning to do a summer cycle tour round the Netherlands. She told me that the north is quite boring and flat and that she prefers the south. Flat, I thought, how can it possibly get any flatter than this!  Continue readingThe magic of the morning

Being ‘here’ instead of ‘there’

1498742_10201490149035710_1237995288_oI frequently find myself saying ‘here’ when I really mean ‘there’. As in, ‘That’s not unusual here’ or ‘We like to eat Marmite over here’. And I realised that this is the first time in my life that my ‘here’ is not the UK. I’ve visited other countries, but I’ve never lived anywhere outside of Britain and it’s taking some getting used to. Continue readingBeing ‘here’ instead of ‘there’

Balancing the human and non-human in nature writing

Nope, no humans here...
Nope, no humans here…

I recently read a blog post called ‘Ruminations on Nature Writing‘ that got me thinking. The blog’s author is at a reading by Sherry Simpson, who is being introduced by a man called David Stevenson. In his introduction Stevenson comments that although Simpson is often described as a nature writer, what she is really writing about is people. To which the blog’s author reacts:

Whoa, I thought. Did David just dismiss nature writing, or what? It’s as if writing about PEOPLE gave Sherry’s work more gravitas, made it more substantial and relevant and worthy.

It got me thinking about the balance that nature writers have to strike between the human (the narrator included) and the non-human. It also got me wondering whether I too am guilty of prioritising the human over nature. Continue readingBalancing the human and non-human in nature writing